Catching up with Jay Vance

Jay and I went to Deerfield High School in the late eighties. Being two of the biggest egomaniacs on the grounds led to some minor dustups back in the day, but we appropriately put that dynamic behind us years ago. Jay played in a string of bands including Blue Meanies and Skankin’ Pickle, then moved out to San Francisco and created a band featuring two hand-built robots that play guitar and drums.

His band, Captured! By Robots, came to town Saturday night and played a packed show at Beat Kitchen. These blue-LED eyed punk rock robots have almost a Ridley Scott vibe about them, and, make no mistake, they totally rip it up on their instruments. They thrash out the music while Jay enacts a verbal assault on the Trump administration, Wasserman’s DNC, and other political topics local to his home in the bay area.

I remember Jay being depressed about his band for a long time, but when I saw him last night he said that he’s begun to make music that’s really meaningful to him. He considers the first 20 years of the band as “Just practice”, and now he’s getting to the real stuff. This is clear from his delivery from the stage, as well as bouncing around the mosh pit with the fans. It’s unadulterated expression. An obvious catharsis. He’s really in the zone. It’s great to see a friend in the zone.

In the next couple of days, Jay (aka “J-Bot”) will play shows in Wisconsin before turning his van back west. Learn more about the band at


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